Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 627 - 639)




  627. Gentlemen, thank you for coming this afternoon. Would you be kind enough to identify yourselves?
  (Mr Davey) Paul Davey, the corporate affairs manager for Hutchison Ports (UK) Limited.
  (Mr Gray) Chris Gray, chief executive, Hutchison Ports (UK).
  (Mr Mordaunt) Terence Mordaunt, chairman, Bristol Port Company.
  (Mr Jones) Peter Jones, chief executive, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.
  (Mr Don) Alec Don, director of planning, Mersey Docks and Harbour Company.

  628. Thank you. May I ask each one of you what role do you play in the economy, particularly in the area local to your ports? How much traffic do you deal with and how many staff do you employ?
  (Mr Gray) At the port of Felixstowe, which is the United Kingdom's largest container port, we probably handle about 40 per cent of the United Kingdom's container traffic. We employ 2,650 people directly and we have a wage bill of around £60 million per annum, most of which goes into the local economy.
  (Mr Mordaunt) We move ten million tonnes of cargo a year. We employ 523 people. There are another 5,000 people who are directly there as a result of the port being there.

  629. Do you have any idea of the size of the payroll?
  (Mr Mordaunt) Our payroll on an annual basis is about 15 million a year.

  630. Is that doubled by the extra people outside?
  (Mr Mordaunt) Much more than doubled. There are ten outside to one inside.
  (Mr Jones) We own ports both on the Mersey and on the Medway, the ports of Sheerness and Chatham on the Medway as well as Liverpool and Birkenhead on the Mersey. Group wide we employ about 1,500 people. In total, the throughput of the Mersey ports is around 30 million tonnes and a little over three million tonnes at the Medway ports. The payroll group wide would be about 40 million.

  631. To what extent does the demand for port services exceed supply in this country?
  (Mr Mordaunt) I do not believe it does exceed supply. It is a very competitive market. Most of us could do more if we had to, but that is speaking generally. There are specific areas, like containers, where there is a shortage, or there will be a shortage.

  632. Tell us about that. Is it just containers or is it particular geographical areas?
  (Mr Mordaunt) It is more appropriate for Mr Gray to talk about containers than me but certainly we have expanded very fast in the south west and we have expanded because we are very near the centre of the country. I would say this is environmentally very good for the country in that it brings the ships which are environmentally better closer to the centre and therefore less road and rail distance.
  (Mr Gray) In terms of container capacity, within the next two to three years, we will have run out of capacity. At the last hearing when I gave evidence to you, I did stress the need for deep water berths at United Kingdom ports. Ships are getting bigger. There is going to be a requirement for ports to provide berths with a much deeper draft than they have at the moment, especially if we are going to compete with the north European ports.

  633. How many deep water ports are we talking about, approximately?
  (Mr Gray) In the United Kingdom—I am talking container ports—Southampton and Felixstowe have the ability to take the larger ships. We just completed a dredge in the Medway which can also enable ports in the Medway to take larger vessels.

  634. Which of these ports are going to be under pressure?
  (Mr Gray) We are already under pressure. Felixstowe is under pressure today and this is why we have the expansion plans.

  635. Is that also true for the other container ports?
  (Mr Gray) Yes.

  636. What timescale are we talking about?
  (Mr Gray) By the time we have completed the consents process and we have hopefully obtained permission, we are looking at at least three years, even if we go on our normal time frame as we forecast today, before we will be able to have a new berth at Felixstowe up and running.

Mr Bennett

  637. How does your efficiency compare to other people around the world?
  (Mr Gray) Compared to Europe, we are as efficient as any port in Europe.

  638. What about the rest of the world?
  (Mr Gray) Some of the Asian ports, particularly the sister port in Hong Kong, are more efficient than we are.


  639. Why?
  (Mr Gray) Possibly the type of operation, the intensity of the operation. There are many factors. It is about equipment; it is about people; it is about the type of traffic they handle.

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